Fulbright Scholarship Program in Africa
AMBASSADOR JERRY P. LANIER
Fulbright Scholarship Program in Africa
MAKERERE UNIVERSITY MAIN HALL
4:00 p.m.; FEBRUARY 24, 2012
Chancellor Mondo Kagonyera,
Vice Chancellor Venansius Baryamureeba,
Dr. Shelby Lewis, member, Fulbright Scholarship Board
Dr. William Kalema, Chair of the Female Scholarship Foundation,
Fulbright Alumni, Lecturers, and Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Protocols Observed,
It is an honor to be here with you today and to welcome Dr. Lewis back to Uganda. We are very pleased that she could come to Kampala and I'd like to thank her for returning to Uganda, as well as for her leadership of the Fulbright program.
Back in 1946, the U.S. Congress created this program sponsored by Senator J. William Fulbright. He envisioned the Fulbright program as a means to "bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs, and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."
Today, Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international education exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations. The program—working with universities, schools, bi-national Fulbright commissions, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in over 155 countries—actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies, and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.
We see these programs not merely as an exchange of people, but more importantly, as an exchange of ideas that will continue far into the future. We believe that exchange programs - whether it be the Fulbright program, the Humphrey fellowship, or any of our many other programs - are the foundation of mutual understanding, and an essential part of diplomacy. We consider those that have participated in our exchange programs valuable members of our Mission family.
In Uganda, the first Fulbright scholarship was awarded in 1952 to
Professor William Senteza Kajubi, who is with us today. He was one of the first Fulbrighters from Africa and there's no doubt that his experience at the University of Chicago played a formative role in his future successes as a leader in the educational sector of Uganda. Professor Kajubi is just one of over 300 Ugandans who have studied in the U.S. on the Fulbright program.
In addition to sending outstanding Ugandan scholars to the United States, some of the brightest Americans come to Uganda on the Fulbright program. Since the beginning of the program, over 125Americans have come to Uganda - as lecturers, as researchers, as short-term specialists, and as students.
In addition to our education exchange programs, the U.S. Government is very active in the Uganda education sector in other ways. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Government provides approximately $15 million each year to support the Ministry of Education and Sports in providing quality education to Ugandan students. For the past 10 years, the Ambassador's Girls' Scholarship Program has provided over 5,000 scholarships to bright and needy girl students to complete secondary school.
We also fund the Rising Star Mentoring Program, which empowers girl secondary school students throughout Uganda to become economically independent and socially responsible leaders, which is based on a powerful model of combining education with life skills, leadership and mentoring. In addition to our visiting American Fulbrighters, we also host an English Language Fellow who is currently placed at Kyambogo University in the Department of Literature. And for students interested in pursuing higher education in the United States, we offer education advising services through our EducationUSA office at the Embassy and at a satellite center located at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology.
In 2010/11, the number of international students in the U.S. increased to a record high of 723,277, a 32 percent increase since 2000/01. Approximately 820 students Ugandans pursue studies in the United States every year-some on a U.S. Government program, but many on their own or with financial assistance directly from the school. The number of American students coming to Africa to pursue their studies in Africa is also increasing. There has been an 8 percent increase overall of students coming to Africa, and Uganda is in the top five of African counties to receive American students.
The U.S. Government recognizes that the foundation of practically all education and an absolute necessity for students to succeed in school, and to take advantage of opportunities for continuing education, is simply the ability to read. Recent studies show that Uganda's literacy statistics are dire: 51 percent of P2 students in Uganda's central region and 82 percent of P2 students in the Lango region are unable to read the most simple text. A recent household survey found that 98 percent of P3 students could not read a P2-level text. These findings are alarming, as students who cannot read with comprehension in the early grades tend to fall behind and are at greater risk of dropping out. Over the next five years, USAID will partner with the Ministry of Education and Sports to implement a $60 million program to improve the reading skills of 3.5 million children.
Peace Corps in Uganda also supports teaching, teacher training, and the development of instructional materials and curriculum throughout the most rural areas of Uganda. Peace Corps has over 70 primary and secondary education volunteers teaching math and science, as well as working with student teachers at several different teacher-trainer colleges.
In addition to celebrating the work of the Fulbright program in Uganda and in Africa, we are also here to mark Black History Month - a month set aside to honor the enormous contributions of African American throughout the history of the United States. The Association for the Study of African American Life has selected “Black Women in American Culture and History” as the 2012 theme for Black History Month, so we are doubly honored to have Dr. Lewis with us today - herself an accomplished African American woman leader.
Just last week, I had the occasion to show Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech with a group of over 200 Ugandans from all walks of life. The speech was delivered in 1963 to more than 200,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. I was only eleven, living myself in a racially-segregated town in the rural South, when Dr. King delivered his speech, but I still remember how his speech affected me, the United States, and the world. His call for a better world for his children continues to resonate today.
Thank you again for the invitation to join you today. I look forward to our continued discussion on these issues.